Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me
Super Bowl rings have gotten as big as Rhode Island. I found that out the other day on my weekly Wednesday morning shift at Sirius Radio in New York, when Mark Bavaro was a guest. He took out the 1990 Super Bowl ring, the second that he won with the Giants, and it was dwarfed by the Super Bowl ring owned by my co-host, Giants play-by-play man Bob Papa, who just got his this summer.
Papa held his ring next to Bavaro's, which was quite literally half the size.
"I used to not wear it,'' said Bavaro. "I thought it was too gaudy. Now look. It's like a high school ring.''
Enjoyable/Aggravating Travel Note of the Week
Sometimes I forget the things that annoy me on the road, and Saturday, at an NBC rehearsal for the 2008 TV season, Bob Costas reminded me of one.
At hotels now -- and this has been happening for four or five years -- when you order room service, the male or female waiter who comes to the door always asks: "May I come in?''
Which prompted Costas, coming off a month in a hotel in Beijing, to say: "May I come in?! No! I'll eat the meal in the hallway! What do you mean, 'May I come in?' ''
Good point, Bobby.
Stat of the Week
The most underappreciated but most outstanding position group of Week 1 in the NFL was the Atlanta Falcons offensive line. Left to right: Sam Baker, Justin Blalock, Todd McClure, Harvey Dahl and Tyson Clabo. Remember draft day, when GM Thomas Dimitroff got roasted by his peers for trading up to the 21st overall pick for left tackle Baker? No one's laughing now.
The line paved the way for 318 rushing yards.
The line allowed one sack and one pressure of Matt Ryan.
The line cleared the way for an average of 8.3 yards per play.
Good Guy of the Week
John Lynch. The Patriots agonized nine days ago because they had some young talent at safety, then cut Lynch, possibly ending the longtime safety's pro football career. This weekend he found out that after 15 years, the game actually does go on without him.
Saturday night he called DirecTV to make sure his home in Denver was wired for NFL Sunday Ticket. Sunday morning he went to church with his family. Then he settled in to watch the games, with his four kids running in and out of the house as kids are wont to do on a nice, late-summer Sunday. "If the Jets or Patriots call one of these days,'' wife Linda asked him Sunday, "what's your answer?'' Lynch said he didn't know. "If I'm done, I'm done. I'm at peace with it,'' he said.
Two reasons for Lynch getting the inaugural Good Guy award here. One: He's one of the best people I've ever covered, a mentoring type in the game and out. It's never about him. It's always about the team. His foundation has awarded 53 scholarship to youth leaders over the years. And he didn't want to subject his family to an itinerant life this year -- unless he knew he'd play a role for the Patriots, a team he's always wanted to play for. "I didn't think it was fair to them to have me living in a Residence Inn for six months, and it's not something I wanted to do either,'' he said.
Two: He's committed to keep the memory of Darrent Williams -- slain on New Year's Day 2007, a murder still unsolved -- alive. He and two teammates from Denver, Champ Bailey and Domonique Foxworth (since traded to Atlanta), will host a wine-tasting and dinner Sept. 15 to raise money for the Darrent Williams Memorial Teen Center, a haven for highly at-risk Denver kids.
"We feel so strongly about keeping his dream to help kids alive,'' Lynch said. "Darrent was only here two years, but he brought such life into the team and into the community.''
The Way We Were
The first in a year-long (or longer) series comparing players of today with those of long ago, or not so long ago. In this section, I'll compare players who, for reasons on and off the field, could have switched places in time and been similar.
Brett Favre vs. Sammy Baugh
First, each man can talk all day. Or could, in their prime. Fifteen years ago or so, I had occasion to call Baugh a few times for stories, and it was hard to get him off the phone. This summer, I once hung up with Favre after a particularly lengthy interrogation about his future in football, looked down, and the phone read 1:20.31. Eighty minutes. Not painful, either. Enlightening.
Can you just imagine Favre as a two-way player had he played in the forties? Or three-way, which Baugh was? In 1943, Baugh, a Redskin, led the NFL in quarterbacking (1,754 yards, 23 touchdown passes), interceptions (12) and punting average (45.3 yards per punt). Slingin' Sammy, they called him, a daring thrower who didn't get caught up in the interceptions; he liked to take chances on the field.
If Favre gets marked down for anything, it's his risk-taking, his penchant for just winging it upfield on some low-percentage gambit. Sixty years ago, Baugh had back-to-back 2,500-yard passing seasons, the first time in history that had happened. Favre's no 4,000-passing-yard trailblazer, but he throws downfield like Baugh and has much of the same success on the bombs.
One other commonality: They're Southern men who lived to work the land. Baugh, now retired, ran cattle on a 25,000-acre ranch in west Texas. He'd be out all day long, tending to his land, his fences and his animals. Favre, recently un-retired, lives on a 465-acre ranch in southern Mississippi. He loved being out all day tending to his trees, grass and aggressive beavers.
Favre has reminded me of Baugh the player and person for a long time. When Favre retires for good, they'll be together for good ... somewhere on the list of the top 50 football players of alltime.